When a team trades a star for a prospect, typically it takes longer than this to realize if the team that dealt the prospect made a mistake. Only three full seasons have passed since the trade that sent R.A. Dickey to the Blue Jays and Noah Syndergaard to the Mets, yet it’s already clear the Mets have won. Projecting the future for the players involved only makes it more lopsided in favor of New York. The deal is Exhibit A in the case for Mets GM Sandy Alderson as one of the best dealers in baseball.
The Mets have had many terrible slogans over the years, weak attempts to draw fans to the ballpark to watch a crappy team. In 1998 the motto was the admittedly catchy “Show Up at Shea.” In 2003 it was “Experience It” (“it” apparently referred to a 66-win team). On the heels of a rare playoff appearance, the 2007 slogan was “Your Season Has Come,” a declaration that Mets management has been selling to fans ever since without delivering on the promise. But next year, Matt Harvey is back. The pitching staff is loaded. The good news: Your Season Has Come! The bad news: It looks a lot like the past few seasons.
I’m embarrassed to say this, but I dreamed about Carlos Beltran last night. That, by itself, is not something to be ashamed of, especially for a die-hard baseball fan. The embarrassing part is that I woke myself up shouting, “We’ll miss you, Carlos!” It was one of those moments where I was semi-aware I was sleep-talking, but fell back asleep before I could really process anything.
Carlos Beltran was traded yesterday to the San Francisco Giants for pitching prospect Zack Wheeler, the deal becoming official today.* It was 7.5 years ago that Beltran signed with the New York Mets. Can you believe it’s been that long?
*Given that I’ve never seen Wheeler pitch I’ll just say, all things considered, it seems like a fair trade. It could be great for both teams: the Giants are hoping Beltran helps them defend their World Series title and the Mets hope Wheeler turns into a front-of-the-rotation starter down the line. But 21-year-old pitching prospects are unpredictable and nothing is guaranteed when it comes to playoff baseball, so who really knows?
I wrote about Beltran in the middle of May, noting he was underappreciated by many Mets fans. Since then, the internet campaign to make these people realize Beltran’s value has intensified tenfold. I wrote then that I thought Beltran’s eventual departure would lead to a case of “don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone,” but as these last couple of months have shown, it’s been more like “don’t know what you’ve got until you realize he’ll inevitably be traded to a contender.”
I find it admirable, but sort of fruitless, that Beltran’s fans have come to his defense. Fans are free to choose their favorite players and it’s not too surprising Beltran wasn’t a popular choice. Fans prefer homegrown talent and the Mets have Jose Reyes and David Wright. After that, they gravitate towards the Joe McEwings, Benny Agbayanis, and Turk Wendells—players who don’t quite look right in a baseball uniform and possess maybe two of the five tools, but find a way to contribute. A great achievement by someone like Beltran would often be followed by, “Yeah, well he’s supposed to do that, he’s paid a billion dollars.”
So if you want to remember Beltran with his bat on his shoulder in Game Six, cool. I’m going to remember him running up that ridiculous hill in Houston. I’m going to remember him making Gary Cohen say, “We’re going home!” I’m going to remember “El Esta Aqui.”
Of course, el no esta aqui, not anymore. I guess my dream was fitting, because from the time I started following baseball to 2004 I could only dream of the Mets having a center fielder like Carlos Beltran. Now I can only dream of one day having another like him.